Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Defend Black Mesa Sovereignty. Protect Dine Ways of Life May 14th 2018

April 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Latest Posts


On May 14, 2018, the Diné elders of Black Mesa and Big Mountain are calling resisters from near and far to converge at Black Mesa! On that day, they will launch a continuous camp to defend Diné sovereignty and share traditional ways of life with the younger generation.

Participants will help shear sheep and plant crops, supporting the elders of Black Mesa in continuing their traditional practices. They’ll also have the chance to take part in workshops presented by the elders on skills like wool dying with herbs found on the land, weaving, and natural cooking. Together, they’ll help with work projects like building a corral and chopping wood.

Having a continuous presence at the site will also provide a strong measure of protection against livestock impoundments, a threat the elders face on a daily basis. Participants will therefore take part in talks on land defense and serving as human rights witnesses for the Black Mesa community.

Black Mesa is an area of ancestral Diné territory within so-called Arizona where families have been resisting forced relocation for over forty years. The elders here have steadfastly refused to cede their land to Peabody Coal and wish only to continue their traditional life and allow the land to heal.


The sheep, horses and cattle these families maintain on the so-called Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL) are their primary means of subsistence and an integral part of their traditional lifeway. Impoundments of livestock are a deliberate violation of the rights of Diné people to practice their traditional culture, continuing a shameful legacy of U.S. government-mandated livestock reductions, as seen during the 1860s and the 1930s.

In recent years, hundreds of sheep, cattle and other livestock have been hauled away in impoundment operations by heavily armed police. Elders in the HPL are presently being threatened with impoundments, resulting in great stress, anxiety and hardship. The community is organizing to prevent future impoundments and is asking for additional support at this time.

The Diné communities of Black Mesa are asserting their sovereign rights to continue to protect and maintain their ancestral grazing lands, cornfields, home sites, and sacred places.

Those who are willing to work, learn, and show respect for the Black Mesa community and land are invited to attend. The elders are strongly encouraging indigenous folks to attend, but non-indigenous people are welcome as long as they’re willing to work. No violence, drugs, or weapons will be tolerated.


We’re also looking for massage therapists who want to come out and do massage for the elders!

If you’d like to participate, please contact us at BlackMesaLifeWays@gmail.com telling us a little bit about yourself and why you’re interested in taking part! If you’re an indigenous person who would like to request travel support for coming out, please let us know that too.


We’re working to raise funds to make sure we have all the necessary building, planting, and shearing materials for the projects that will be happening at the camp. We need to purchase some shears, planting tools, and construction supplies, for example. Funds will also support travel to the camp for indigenous participants who request support, the camp kitchen, and other infrastructure needs. No matter how large or small, every donation will be deeply appreciated and put to good use!

Donate here:

Thank you so much for your support!

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